Crime Scene Investigation

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9780135934272: Crime Scene Investigation

This is the only book currently available that is devoted exclusively to scientific crime scene investigation. The Crime Scene Kit. The Initial Response. The Search. Evidence Selection. Evidence by Type of Crime. Impression Evidence. Fingerprints. Documenting the Crime. The Crime Lab. Going to Court. For involved or interested in crime scene or criminal investigation.

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Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The headlines blare: "DEFENSE ATTORNEY CHALLENGES THE POLICE EVIDENCE IN MURDER TRIAL, charge the police with planting and sloppy handling of evidence." Stop! Back up! How did that happen? The officers did everything according to the book, they explained, although the book was beginning to miss a few pages and the officers got sloppy in carrying out their work in the fashion they believed the book had (or should have been) written. The problem is, we have to write an updated version of the book, and then require our personnel to read it and adhere to its precepts.

For many years, as crime scene investigators, we collected the evidence, took the photos, prepared the reports, and eventually presented the evidence in court. Hardly ever did anyone, especially defense attorneys, challenge our motives and our methods. We did our job as professionals do. It was a debatable presumption that a job done by professionals was believed to have been done completely and correctly.

Then something happened: Attorneys found that by challenging the evidence and the way it was collected and handled, and by suggesting that perhaps the evidence collectors had some ulterior motive, the case could be won by raising sufficient reasonable doubt about how the entire case was handled. This was not a new tactic, but with the mega-publicity blitz given the so-called "trial of the century" and the media-hyped "dream team" of high-priced attorneys, other attorneys have taken the baton and run with it.

The purpose of this book is to focus on the basics of crime scene investigation as it should be done by professionals. Not only must the crime scene investigators perform a perfect job, but the crime scene investigators' work must appear to others as having been done perfectly by unbiased investigators searching for the truth in every case. The crime scene investigator is not an advocate for one side or the other—that is the role of the opposing attorneys. As a CSI officer, your advocacy is for the evidence and whatever it proves.

As authors of this text, we face the challenge of writing to at least three distinctive audiences: the student, the sworn crime scene investigator, and the non-sworn crime scene investigator. To be sure, there are others we hope to reach, such as officers assigned to patrol, investigators, educators, prosecutors, defense attorneys, journalists, and others, but the primary focus is on those three groups.

We, too, have varied backgrounds: one is a college professor who is a former police lieutenant, one is a forensic specialist assigned to crime analysis duties, and the third is a detective sergeant assigned to crimes against persons. We all have one thing in common, having all been involved in police training. It is this collection of talents that allows us, we believe, to deliver a text that can meet the needs of our varied audience. Here is what we hope to accomplish:

TO THE STUDENTS

You are likely studying criminal justice or forensic science. Perhaps you have decided that crime scene investigation is your calling. Or maybe you are not sure yet and are looking for information to help you make up your mind. Maybe you are just taking a class to learn more about what is certainly an interesting topic. In any case, this text has been designed to provide you with current, realistic information that presents an accurate overview of the role of a crime scene investigator. We provide both basic and advanced information. While you may not yet actually be responding to crime scenes or processing evidence, this text will provide you with a good idea of how and why it is done. We deliberately included a great deal of background information about how CSI personnel do their job. This ranges from getting to the scene to conducting various aspects of investigating the crime scene to testifying in court.

TO THE NON-SWORN CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATOR

You are perhaps new to the field or are interested in reviewing basic crime scene concepts, or adding some new concepts to your repertoire. As a non-sworn investigator, you represent the typical CSI officer for most larger departments. Because of longer, more stabilized assignment to CSI, it is not unlikely that your work will be superior to that performed by an officer who is not particularly happy in his or her current assignment. We applaud your dedication and your efforts to seek out additional information to enhance your skills and expand your knowledge. In this text, we provide you with solid advice on how to go about your investigation of crime scenes. In addition, we have devoted many paragraphs to enhance your well-being, both fiscal and physical, and your career development. There is little in this book that will not apply to you, either as a head start in your chosen profession or as a valuable refresher, or to keep your career moving "fast-forward."

TO THE SWORN PEACE OFFICER CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATOR

As a peace officer, you might be assigned full time as a crime scene investigator, or you might be on an auxiliary assignment, or on an assignment you plan to pass through after a few months. In many jurisdictions, the entire crime scene responsibility rests with the patrol officer assigned to respond to the call. Perhaps you are assigned to patrol and want to expand your knowledge and improve your skills in this area. If so, we strongly support your efforts to better serve your department and community. All officers who respond to crime scenes have some responsibility, and the more knowledgeable you are about your role as well as everyone around you, the better the job you will perform.

This text will provide you with the high level of relevant and realistic information you need to process crime scenes in today's environment. As a sworn officer, your needs will differ from those of the non-sworn investigator. For example, we have included information about safely responding to the crime scene. This entails a different set of issues for you than it does for the unarmed investigator. We recognize the differences between the players and have included basic safety information pertaining to all who read the book, whatever your assignment.

To all our readers, thank you for sharing your time with us. We believe you will consider it time well spent. Crime scene investigation is a critically-important component of our criminal justice system. We wish you the best of success as professionals.

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Thomas Francis Adams; Jeffrey Lee Krutsinger
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